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Report on Oxford Union 911 Meeting

Report on Oxford Union 911 Meeting

By Ian Henshall
26.Jan 2003

The speakers were Annie Machon, David Shayler, ex-MI5 agents who were pretty sure 911 was an inside job, Ian Henshall co-author of 911 Revealed who gave a survey of the various theories and the missing evidence, and lecturer Bill Durodié in support of the official story.

[This report has not been checked with the other participants it is for background use in response for numerous requests for some material on this very popular and successful meeting. It is circulated in haste to 911 Truth Campaigners and the media, many of whom have been asking for transcripts. The meeting was filmed and the Oxford Union would consider providing the material to interested news organisations (full transcripts likewise but the cost would be approximately £200 for secretarial fees)]

The meeting took the form not of a traditional debate but of a forum, partly because the US Embassy had refused to send a speaker. It attracted a turnout of over 300, vastly more than similar events. Oxford Union President Sapona Agrawal said afterwards that she had had many messages congratulating the Union on holding the debate.

Annie Machon said that from her personal knowledge of how the spy world works it was absolutely possible that 911 was an inside job, the influence of MI5 in Fleet Street was far greater than most people realised and the penetration of the political world, particularly left wing groups, was very thorough. This might explain why the media and most political leaders had been convinced the official 911 story was true.

David Shayler said that it was certain that MI6 had worked with Al Qaeda and that many individuals in the intelligence agencies had a complete contempt for the law. He focused on details of the collapse of the Twin Towers and the supposed airliner attack on the Pentagon as clear instances of why the official story of 911 could not be right.

Ian Henshall said there were three main approaches, the official story (in which he included gross incompetence by officials), the notion that the attacks were deliberately allowed to happen and thirdly that they were engineered, in an update of the Pentagon's documented Operation Northwoods plot to fake a plane shootdown over Cuba. He said that the striking thing in working on his book was that most of the issues could be cleared up if only the US authorities had not seized vital evidence and refused to reveal it. Moreover there was a pattern of intimidation of witnesses and dishonesty by the 911 Commission. There was a strong likelihood at least of complicity, even add-ons to an Al Qaeda plot, and until the evidence was produced an Operation Northwoods type hoax could not be ruled out. It is agreed the anthrax attacks with US weapons grade anthrax were indeed an add-on to the 911 attacks, he said.

Bill Durodie expounded the view known to sociologists as conspiracism. This holds that with no real mainstream politics any more, disenfranchised people are believing in "infantile" conspiracy theories because there is nothing else. His department had counted over sixty rumours about the 911 attacks. He had little to say about the 911 attacks themselves. He drew little distinction between different conspiracy theories. He said the media would be only too keen to report 911 conspiracy theories if there was anything in them.

During the subsequent discussion a number of questioners supported Durodie's line, one said that many Democrats hated Bush and would certainly have raised the alarm if they were suspicious. Shayler and Machon said that their experience with the media was the living proof that when really important issues come up the media is easily cowed by the state. Henshall said most Washington Democrats were not a serious opposition as their continued support, in defiance of their supporters, for the Iraq war showed, and that Durodie seemed to be using the expression conspiracy theory as a term of abuse against anyone who believed the government was lying.

A similar number of questioners were well-informed 911 sceptics asking detailed questions about the collapse of the Towers and the Pentagon and recommending various informational web sites and dvds.

There was no vote taken.

Note on Conspiracism

Conspiracism contains veiled appeals to the traditional Left but originates in Durkheim's theory of anomie, generally regarded as a right wing response to the sociology of Karl Marx. It was promoted by supporters of the official story on the Kennedy assassination (long debunked by the House Committee on Assassinations): uneducted lower class disenfranchised "white trash" were believing wild stories becasue they had nothing else to believe. The message from Durodie was that conspiracy theories are "dangerous", which could be taken as a covert hint to media editors that they should be censored. I have heard that leading 911 sceptic David Ray Griffin was attacked in similar terms on Amy Goodman's west coast programme Democracy Now. In the UK this analysis is associated with a group originally around Living Marxism magazine but who are generally regarded with suspicion by most on the left. They get generous access to the mainstream media, making sound points on media distortions of eg health scares, but more often attacking Greenpeace and the anti-globalisation movement.


Ian Henshall, co-author 911 Revealed, publisher of Crisis Newsletter and He is also proprietor of Coffee Plant ( and chair of INK, the trade organisation for the UK alternative print media (

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